A few months ago I remember seeing a well-to-do looking woman outside the Boundary Hotel in Shoreditch, waiting for her chauffeur to pick her up. I overheard her complaining to her husband/partner about how dreadful the area was and how she couldn't understand why everyone was "raving" about it. I'm only assuming this lady had read somewhere about how hot Shoreditch was, ditched her usual Mayfair spot and inched her way Eastwards to see what all the fuss was about. This encounter only serves to remind me that for however much real estate puff talk and persistent rumours that the likes of Prada and Ralph Lauren are sniffing around for locations in Shoreditch, East is still East and frankly, that should be the way it is. Shoreditch will never be a Bond Street or a Mayfair and rightly so. Its own distinct identity as it is, is in danger of being eroded by eager developers and dodgy design decisions. The area shouldn't let slip of the slew of the thoughtful retail and restaurant entities, which have given Shoreditch its admittedly gentrified renewed lease of life over the last decade or so, but at the very least still largely retain character and some sense of locality. On the new additions front, House of Hackney, recently opened on Shoreditch High Street has brought something quite rooted and characterful to the area. Ace Hotel (slated to open in September), though an American import, does plug a sorely-needed accomodation gap and will hopefully attract a crowd that potentially will take to the surrounding Leila's, Rochelle's Canteen, Labour & Wait, Sunspel etc like a duck to water.
High end womenswear in the area is also getting a boost to match up with its male counterparts of Present and Anthem, with Hostem converting its upper floors to stock womenswear in September and now, just off Shoreditch High Street, on Holywell Lane, we have Celestine Eleven. It calls itself an "alternative luxury store". I wouldn't know how to come up with a neat category box to put Celestine Eleven. It is… to put in annoyingly adopted LA-speak, "rad" as in radical. Founder Tena Strok sees luxury as not just an accumulation of posessions but to have a high quality of aesthetic, spiritual and intellectual well being. And so it is that Celestine Eleven provides the means to at least attempt to achieve those things. The tranquil space is dotted with crystals. One statement wall is etched with a new age interpretation of the vitruivan man. There's an apothecary selling skincare, vitamins and herban tinctures and soon, Celestine Eleven will be able to offer acupuncture, massage and facial treatments in the basement area. The well-stocked library aims to feed the brain with universal questioning reading matter, visual fodder and a good dose of Patti Smith.
You wouldn't have thought designers such as J.W. Anderson, Marios Schwab and Meadham Kirchhoff would sit alongside crystal healing and teachings of shamanic journeying but as Strok's styling background would ensure that along with a mind at peace, she'd also want to support the designers she personally loves and promote them as "alternatives" (which I suppose they are to some extent) to the mainstream. Celestine Eleven also goes some way to solving the ridiculous travesty that is that so many London designers, based in East London, don't have a stockist within two miles of their own gaffe. On the accessories front, hats and bags by Wendy Nichol, New Zealand bag brand Deadly Ponies, jewellery by Pamela Love and yay of all yays, the intricate nude leather pieces by Antwerp-based Niels Peeraer. The result is a selection that is quite off-kilter for London and doesn't run the usual gamut of brand choices. In any case, I've personally always equated the brush of Meadham Kirchhoff's delicate lace on their signature pin-tucked dresses or the feel of smooth vegetable tanned leather to a therapy of sorts. So it's fitting that human well-being should be catered to in this way by Celestine Eleven.
The store has only been open for a month or so and is now into its sale period so observing its ebb and flow of labels over the next few seasons will be interesting to see. Celestine Eleven will be adding menswear elements, a few more accessories as well as bolstering its womenswear with the likes of Damir Doma. I'm also excited that Celestine Eleven will be continuing to support Niels Peeraer as his intricate leather accessories ventures into an elephant shade of grey for next season.